Three Framingham Democrats are running to represent Middlesex’s new minority-majority 6th District in the State House. From Monday to Wednesday of this week, we profile each candidate. Today’s candidate is School Committee President Priscila Sousa.
Framingham’s minority-majority First District – the newly formed 6th Middlesex – covers much of the south side of the town. The new district is free of occupants. No Republicans are running for the seat, so whichever of the three Democratic candidates wins the Sept. 6 primary election will be the only person on the ballot in the Nov. 8 general election.
One of these candidates is Priscilla Sousa.
A bit about Sousa
Sousa is a 34-year-old Framingham resident and a graduate of Framingham Schools. She works in the solar industry. She is a member of the school committee which this year became the first woman of color to be elected president.
“I love this community so much and I run because Framingham is my home,” she said. “It’s an exciting time to know that Southside won’t have to share representation on Beacon Hill.”
Sousa is a member of several community boards: Hoops & Homework, Framingham FORCE, Friends of Resiliency for Life and Voices Against Violence Purple Passion Committee.
Sousa said becoming chair of the school board taught her a lot about serving in a legislative body.
“It was a great opportunity to hone coalition building skills, to garner support,” she said. “In any situation, you only have as many votes as you can muster to support your cause.”
She said she was “uniquely qualified” to represent the Southside and wanted to get going – with input from community leaders across the district and across the Southside.
Goals: Equity in education and green spaces, clean up contaminated sites, help downtown businesses
One thing Sousa would like to prioritize is helping downtown businesses; she runs one herself and knows how difficult it is to succeed there, even though Framingham is surrounded by bustling inner-city communities.
“Every day your store stays open is another little miracle — and it shouldn’t be that way,” she said. “Our small business owners work incredibly hard.”
Sousa said many of her goals, should she be elected, would be set with an educational lens. She said that north of Route 9, many children have access to preschool. But that number drops dramatically on the Southside.
She said she would work to ensure education is not a matter of privilege.
“The data is there: having access to pre-school education has an impact on social development, academic development and even earning capacity,” she said. “It’s unfair that a 5-year-old sits on the first day of kindergarten already miles behind the child next to them because one of them had access to kindergarten and the other not.”
She also wants to tackle the cleanup of contaminated sites on the south side, assuming that if such contamination had been discovered north of Highway 9, it would likely already be cleaned up.
“What a way to tell these families – indirectly – that they matter less,” Sousa said. “It is extremely important that we get funding and make every effort to clean up these contaminated sites.
She said parents and teachers said students are working incredibly hard to get back to where they were before the pandemic, and that access to open spaces is essential for social and emotional learning.
Approvals and Past Elections
Sousa was endorsed by Framingham Councilors Michael Cannon, Noval Alexander, Philip Ottaviani, John Stefanini and George King. School committee vice-chair Jessica Barnhill also endorsed Sousa.
Sousa has also secured endorsements from the National Association of Social Workers, Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts and the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.
Sousa ran for mayor in 2017, placing fourth among seven candidates in the preliminary elections, with 538 votes. The top two contenders in that race, Yvonne Spicer and John Stefanini, moved on, with Spicer winning in November.
“As a former five-term state representative, I know what it takes to serve our community in the State House,” Stefanini said in a statement endorsing Sousa. “Our district needs a strong leader, who will use their voice to work tirelessly on behalf of South Framingham on the issues important to us, not Beacon Hill insiders. We need a collaborator who works with everything the world and understands the people she serves. She (Sousa) has the energy, passion and purpose to be our voice.
Democrat Maria Robinson was the most recent lawmaker for the former 6th District of Middlesex (it changed as part of the US Census redistricting). She was nominated last fall by President Joe Biden to serve as assistant secretary at the Department of Energy, but her nomination stalled and was withdrawn in June.
Robinson resigned from the State House in July and joined the Department of Energy as director of the DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, according to her LinkedIn page. She no longer resides in the 6th district of Middlesex.
With the redistricting, residents should check their polling places on the city’s website.
The voter registration deadline for the Sept. 6 state primary is Aug. 27. Mail-in ballot applications for the primary are due Aug. 29.
The general election takes place on November 8. The voter registration deadline for the general election is October 29 and mail-in ballot applications are due November 1.